Film, OldVenue

Review: He Named Me Malala

It would be difficult to make a boring film about Malala Yousafzai. He Named Me Malala is a documentary about a Pakistani girl, shot by the Taliban for campaigning for education. The film is carried not only by Malala’s story, but by her vibrant personality which shines throughout. The documentary manages to strike a balance, conveying the severity of Malala’s story whilst also allowing for light-hearted moments showing her youth and personality. When you hear Malala speak, there’s no doubt the words are hers, and the documentary feels, at its core, authentic.

At the heart of the film is Malala’s relationship with her father. It’s clear that her passion comes from him, and through her upbringing, it’s easy to see how he influenced her, but still emphasises that her choices were hers and no one else’s. What is less clear is the relationship and personality of Malala’s mother, who is largely absent from the film, despite Malala’s emphasis on her mother’s strength and involvement. This seems to be because her mother is traditional and doesn’t want to be shown on camera, which is a valid reason; however it does create a gap in He Named Me Malala’s narrative. The film also falters due to odd choices in chronology, with some parts of Malala’s life appearing to have been randomly selected, rather than linearly shown. This is slightly jarring, but due to the story’s compelling nature, doesn’t take away from the overall film.

Some have said that the film does not focus enough on Malala’s suffering, as it is touched upon, but never fully explained. However, this is less of a shortcoming and more of Malala’s intentional choice. Malala has stated that she wants the film to be “not a movie but a movement”. This is perhaps the reason that she feels it is less important to talk about her suffering, because how does that help? Instead she talks about the importance of education and what needs to be done. This is what is shown as the most extraordinary aspect of Malala, not only her courage, but her deep knowledge of what is important, what really matters and what should be at the forefront of every world leader’s agenda: peace, forgiveness and education.

Above all, the documentary feels like a needed call to action, as well as a heart-warming and informative account of this incredible young woman’s life.

+Heartfelt and informative
-Confusing narrative
A documentary about an amazing teenager, with a story that highlights the importance of speaking up.

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Watch the trailer for He Named Me Malala
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June 2022
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